LOS ANGELES – A 4-year-old child was in critical condition Tuesday after a fiery six-vehicle crash that killed two adults and three children and injured 16 people.
The scene was "hellacious," said police Officer Karen Smith.
A van going through an intersection slammed into a second van that had sped through a red light Monday and "made it go airborne," Smith said.
"By the time the van landed it was fully engulfed in flames," Smith said.
That collision set off a chain reaction that set three vehicles ablaze, melted a traffic signal and scattered debris across the intersection, she said.
The three children killed were traveling in the first van. A 12-year-old boy was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene, and a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy died later, Officer Ana Aguirre said.
Also in the van were three other children and a man and woman who were injured, but police could not say Tuesday whether they were one family.
The 4-year-old in critical condition was one of the survivors in the van, Officer Kate Lopez said.
Two people in the van that ran the red light in the Hyde Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles were burned beyond recognition inside the vehicle.
Identities of the dead and injured had not been released Tuesday.
Earlier Monday, an SUV tumbled down a steep slope in Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, killing two people and injuring three others, said Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey. The car plunged 200 to 300 feet down a hillside and came to rest upside down against a carport.
Humphrey said a man in his 70s died at the scene and a woman in her 20s died later at a hospital.
The cause of the crash was under investigation.